Napoleon Conquers The French Even Though They Hate It

By Britta DeVore | Published

Ridley Scott’s newest historical epic, Napoleon, has taken full charge this week, galloping into theaters around the globe and taking the box office with it. While the Kingdom of Heaven and House of Gucci director’s latest flick was destined to find its audience in the United States, it’s in the titular character’s home country of France that the biggest surprise is coming from. According to Variety, despite receiving harsh reviews from French critics, the film is massacring the competition at the box office, raking in over $1 million during its opening day.

The French Critisize Historical Inaccuracies

Showing no signs of slowing down, and continuing to conquer ticket sales well into the weekend, it’s clear that French audiences were interested in seeing Napoleon despite the backlash it received from critics. Of those negative reviews, many have harped on the historical inaccuracies of Scott’s newest project, something he’s been outspoken about standing beside. Others have taken shots at the title’s leading man, Joaquin Phoenix, giving his performance of the power-hungry French emperor negative feedback. 

Really digging in on Napoleon was the newspaper, Le Figaro, which, in its scathing review reported that the movie should change its title to “Barbie and Ken Under the Empire.” It seems as though all types of media outlets in France have had something negative to say about the feature as talk shows, politicians, and historians have railed against the film. 

Ridley Scott Takes A Dig At France

ridley scott

Having had a long career in making movies, Ridley Scott couldn’t be bothered by any of the negative reviews coming from France. During a chat with the BBC, the Napoleon director said, “The French don’t even like themselves,” giving nothing more than a second of energy to the haters. 

Joaquin Phoenix Is Napoleon

Napoleon centers around the titular emperor of France who rose to prominence and power in the chaotic days following the French Revolution. Along with historical battles, including the emperor’s final stand at Waterloo and the burning of Moscow, the film also dug into the courtship and marriage between Napoleon and his first wife, Empress Joséphine (Vanessa Kirby). The pair had a tumultuous relationship that would haunt Napoleon until his death.

The Cast

Along with Academy Award-winner Phoenix (Beau is Afraid) and Emmy-nominee Kirby (Fast & Furious Presens: Hobbs & Shaw), Napoleon also stars Tahar Rahim (The Looming Tower), Matthew Needham (House of the Dragon), Ben Miles (The Crown), Youssef Kerkour (Home), Ludivine Sagnier (Swimming Pool), and Ian McNeice (Doctor Who). The war epic is the latest from Ridley Scott, who has previously brought audiences other historical classics like Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven as well as House of Gucci, Thelma & Louise, Blade Runner, and Alien.

Napoleon Is Coming To Apple TV+

With Napoleon just celebrating a few days in theaters, it looks like the feature will be another box office winner for Ridley Scott and Sony Pictures as, so far, the movie has made over $11.3 million worldwide. Clocking in at just a little over two and a half hours, the movie keeps audiences on the edge of their seats as Scott depicts Napoleon’s unbelievable life. If you see the movie and are hoping for more where that came from a four-hour director’s cut will be arriving down the line on Apple TV+.